The world of retail has always been ripe for experimentation and advancement with digital signage solutions, as the hands-on dynamic of the brick-and-mortar experience is naturally complemented by visual displays and interactive kiosks. Now, to keep pace with e-commerce markets, storefront retailers are stepping up their signage efforts more than ever before, with deeper creative and financial investments. IDC predicts significant growth in this particular segment, forecasting expansion from $6 billion in 2013 to nearly $28 billion by 2018, according to Screen Media Mag.
As retailers navigate the many exciting opportunities of today's digital signage offerings, however, they may find themselves overwhelmed at the sheer level of variety available on the market. It's important for decision-makers in this field to identify the most impactful solutions, making the cost-effective choices that will yield tangible results. To guide them on their path, here are six tips to help retailers make smart signage decisions moving forward.
"Retail signage is seeing deeper creative and financial investment than ever."
1. Promote cross-channel consistency: Between traditional e-commerce storefronts, mobile shopping applications and social media outlets, today's retail brands are faced with a steep challenge when it comes to maintaining a clear and consistent message across digital channels. When done properly, digital signage platforms can be a powerful finishing touch on the in-store customer experience, especially if familiar visual elements are utilized in a fresh way. Brands that master multi-channel consistency will be a step ahead of the competition with regard to signage.
"Understanding that customer experience encompasses what happens face-to-face, on a store kiosk, online or in a mobile app, the branding across all these platforms has to be consistent, and equally captivating," explained Casey Dubbs, marketing manager for Horizon Display, in a recent article for Digital Signage Today.
2. Balance content variety and relevance: In a retail environment, digital displays need to be equally informative and visually intriguing, as too much of either ingredient can lead to a stale – or vapid – viewer experience. Winning signage strategies are known for striking an ideal balance between these two elements, offering shoppers a helping hand while keeping them engaged and excited to explore. Digital signage software for retail should serve as a platform for strategists to fuel in-store displays with content that not only catches the eye, but also moves the customer journey forward.
3. Embrace unconventional methods: The world's most innovative retailers push the envelope in every facet of the customer experience, and brick-and-mortar signage methods are especially suited for creativity. Today's software solutions allow strategists to break the mold and introduce disruptive approaches with big potential rewards. An article from Enplug explored some exciting new techniques, including eye-level shelf displays in supermarkets, ceiling-mounted monitors in malls and in-store screens that feature live streams from satisfied product users.
"You have to spend a great deal of time listening to customers to tease out where they want you to go," said Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and Kayak, according to Digital Signage Today. "That takes reading and watching broadly, both inside and outside of your industry, to combine new technologies with social trends to create engaging new products."
4. Switch up interactive tools and techniques: For today's tech-savvy consumers, simply viewing a digital display is not enough to fully engage them in the shopping experience. More brands are discovering that signage strategies are best leveraged in alignment with interactive touchpoints and other self-service attractions. Every retailer should consider deploying some form of multitouch kiosk to supplement their standard displays, and find out for themselves what a powerful impact this approach can have on the in-store user experience.
5. Aim to master control of the network: As signage strategies become more complex and involved, some retailers are finding that they are losing command over the software networks that govern content and schedules behind the scenes. To ensure that brands don't let their visions slip away into convolution, they must deploy top digital signage software and regain governance across their many locations and campaigns. While these solutions may not be customer-facing, their value is undeniable when compared with bare-bones media players and other conventional methods.
6. Streamline self-service for administrators: Few things are more frustrating to a visual design team than a suite of digital signage software with limited functionality and end-user flexibility. Having to constantly interface with vendors to tweak settings and schedules is not only a waste of valuable time, but can also detract from the timeliness and impact of the message at hand. Self-service should therefore be a priority for retailers looking to revamp their signage strategies, promoting control and flexibility over the visual content meant to truly reflect a brand's personality.
With these pro tips in mind, retailers should have everything they need to take their digital signage strategies to new levels of innovation and user engagement.